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Distance learning: Harnessing the power of EdTech

The AV industry can and should do more to support teachers and parents during the lockdown says Izabela Gral, marketing manager UK & Ireland at ViewSonic.

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally altered how we live and learn. With Europe now the epicentre of the outbreak, UK schools have had to close to students (except for vulnerable pupils or children of key workers) and GCSE and A-Level exams in England and Wales have been cancelled. Educators are having to adapt to new ways of teaching and are relying on AV technology to help continue the learning process. 

Schools now have no choice but to turn to distance learning to support academic development. To do this effectively, at a time when teaching resources are stretched to their limits, is a huge challenge – one which has resulted in many parents now stepping in to home-school their children. So how can AV technology help?

Bringing the classroom home

The traditional learning process is collaborative and recreating that at home is essential for keeping students engaged with the curriculum. An obvious starting place for teachers is to use video conferencing software to bring about a familiar daily structure for pupils – using it as a means to deliver lesson plans and interact with students in real-time. 

For schools unfamiliar with these types of software, it can be a daunting task to work out which platforms will best suit their teaching requirements. Our advice would be to adopt specialist software that closely mimics the real-world classroom – enabling them to use technology to set ground rules and manage the lesson safely. 

Unlike more generic enterprise-grade tools, specialist EdTech software gives teachers additional tools including: automatic mute function for students while the lesson is being delivered; virtual hand raises for students that need support and secure instant messaging capabilities for those who have follow up questions. 

Tech-powered learning

The video record function available on many of these platforms means entire lessons can be recorded live or pre-recorded and then shared with whole classes or even year groups – depending on their academic needs. This is particularly helpful for schools where staffing resources are limited as one teacher can deliver the lesson plan for several hundred pupils. Students and their parents can also access annotated content remotely via the cloud after the class has finished. 

With all technology, security is vitally important. Therefore, EdTech software needs to offer a secured space for teachers and especially students. 

The power of video

Teachers have long embraced the power of video and multimedia content to increase engagement with learning objectives. Using digital whiteboard software that makes embedding video and visual content easy will help keep students – all of whom have different learning styles – actively participating in each virtual lesson too.

Tomorrow’s future

Right now, AV technology is the most powerful tool in a teacher’s arsenal. With children becoming more exposed to technology in the digital age, there is an expectation for schools to be equipped with the digital tools for teaching. In these unprecedented times, where children are having to learn from home, it is essential. 

The AV industry can and should do more to support teachers and parents during this challenging time: making software free, intuitive and easily accessible; sharing step-by-step guides on how to get setup and having a technical support available.   

By working together, we can all create a brighter future.  

Izabela Gral, is marketing manager for UK & Ireland at ViewSonic.